Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

New path to success for Benalla P-12 College

Benalla P-12 College will benefit from $130 000 of funding to assist in strengthening its approach to student career pathways.

MONIQUE FREER December 20, 2013 4:10am

Career pathways: NE Tracks LLEN executive officer Thomas Greene, Tomorrow:Today Foundation executive officer Pat Claridge, Benalla P-12 College program coordinator Sue Oakley and Benalla P-12 College principal Barbara O'Brien.

Families at Benalla P-12 College will benefit from $130000 of funding across the next two years which will help strengthen the approach to student career pathways.

The Victorian Government funding will launch Shared aspirations — family, school, community, a pilot program that will provide an intensive personalised approach to career pathways planning in Year 9 and will track vulnerable students in Year 10 and beyond.

‘‘This is going to allow us to really work with families around talking about careers, talking about how they can access certain pathways to the future — and our main goal is that our Year 9s stay on and finish Year 12 and they can see the way into either university or a job that suits their skills and their interests,’’ Benalla P-12 College principal Barbara O’Brien said.

‘‘It’s about keeping kids at school and keeping them interested and engaged,’’ Ms O’Brien said.

Benalla P-12 College program co-ordinator Sue Oakley said the successful ConnectGirls and Hands On Learning programs launched at the school, had given co-ordinators an understanding of how to better engage students and their families.

‘‘We’re taking some of the things we used in the ConnectGirls program that we know have worked really well to engage students and improve their aspirations, and really the main focus of the program is improving the aspirations of not just the student but also their family,’’ Ms Oakley said.

During the program a ‘portfolio for growth’ will be developed for each student, recording aspirations, goals, skills, achievements and strategies to support Year 12 completion.

Ms Oakley said this would be shared with parents, and a career action plan would be expanded to identify barriers to attendance and engagement.

‘‘A lot of schools don’t do a lot of that work until they’re a little bit older, but we know that Year 9 is an absolutely crucial time to start all of this,’’ she said.

The program was influenced by learnings from staff’s recent study trip to America, where they visited leading educational facilities in Boston and New York.

‘‘The major focus we had in Boston was the Parent University program, and what they’re saying is to identify the needs of parents first, and that helps them become more involved in the school community which means their child gets engaged and you can have those conversations early about pathways,’’ Ms Oakley said.

The program will run with the support of Tomorrow:Today Foundation and NE Tracks Local Learning and Education Network, which will provide personnel and host programs for parents.

Benalla P-12 College was one of 33 Victorian schools that shared in $2.45million of second round funding from the government’s $1billion Regional Growth Fund.

It was one of few regional schools to receive funding in both rounds, having been awarded $70000 over two years in 2011 for the ConnectGirls program.

‘‘This money will help regional schools to partner with other educational organisations, to offer more extensive course options, develop mentorship programs and to work more closely with parents,’’ Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon said.

‘‘In addition to improving retention rates, the Coalition Government believes these programs will improve student well-being, and that better-tailored education programs will lead more students to consider further education and training after completing Year 12.’’

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